On a budget of $585,521, the Laurens County Development Corporation plans to move into 2021 after a COVID-19-impacted 2020.
Board members approved the budget document Tuesday during their meeting in the Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Laurens. The CAM’s spacious rear training room provides ample space for social-distancing for the lunch meeting. Board members heard a report about implementing a strategic plan, also affected by the coronavirus, and received existing industries and economic development activity reports.
The board was told the LCDC Annual Meeting, via Zoom, will scheduled for Jan. 19, 2021.
Dr. David Pitts, representing the Laurens County Council, provided the budget report. The development agency receives its primary funding, $360,000, from the county’s fee-in-lieu-of-taxes for industries collections. Thirteen organizations pay $10,000 each for $130,000 in additional revenue. Other payments and projects account for the rest of the $541,500 in revenue. The $44,021 that the budget is projected to be in the red will be paid from contingency funds.
The LCDC shares a building with the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce in the Professional Park, between Clinton and Laurens. Randy Garrett, representing Laurens Electric Cooperative, is the outgoing chairman, to be replaced by John Young, representing Laurens Commission of Public Works. Pitts, as chairman of the county council, and Stan Bryson, representing Clinton-Newberry Natural Gas Authority, were attending their final meetings with the board. Voting for a slate of officers will be done electronically in December, and the agency’s annual report will be presented in electronic form, the board was told.
LCDC President and CEO Jon Coleman presented a document showing the Implementation Plan for the LCDC Strategic Planning Process, 2020-21. Much of the plan would have to be developed in small-group meetings, Coleman said, and those came to an end in March as the coronavirus hit South Carolina. Coleman, Vice-President Lynn Finley and Director of Marketing Whitney Lagrange each are assigned activities for the next nine months to put the strategic plan into action.
Finley reported to the board a Laurens County 4.6% unemployment rate, which is better than the 5.1% state average.
Coleman reported that for 2020, Laurens County has seen $56.9 million in investments creating 200 new jobs. That is better than similar figures for 2019.
LCDC has fielded 42 RFIs (requests for information) - 47 were submitted by this time in 2019.
Coleman reported that the Northside Site, Hwy 221, Laurens, is being developed, and a spec building in The Connexial Center, northern Laurens County, is complete, adding to the LCDC economic development inventory.